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Typhoid: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Tests and Treatment

Typhoid: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Tests and Treatment

 

Typhoid fever is a severe infection that can impact various organs in the body. It is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Typhoid fever is prevalent in various regions worldwide where adequate sanitation is unavailable, and people do not have access to clean and safe water and food. Most typhoid fever cases are observed in individuals who have travelled from affected countries and can transmit the disease to others.

Symptoms of Typhoid Fever

In the initial stages of typhoid fever, you may experience early symptoms like a fever, abdominal pain, and a sense of being unwell. As the illness progresses, the fever can become very high, reaching 103°F (39.5°C) or higher, and you may also develop severe diarrhoea.

Below mentioned are the signs & symptoms of typhoid fever.

  • - You may experience a headache, chills, and a loss of appetite.
  • - Stomach pain and a rash of faint pink spots known as "rose spots" can appear on your chest or stomach.
  • - Other possible typhoid symptoms include coughing, muscle aches, and nausea or vomiting.
  • - Some people with typhoid fever may also experience diarrhoea or constipation.

These typhoid symptoms can worsen over a few days, and it's essential to seek medical attention if you suspect that you may have contracted the illness. The incubation period for typhoid is usually 1 to 3 weeks, and symptoms can last for several weeks or even months if left untreated.

Causes of Typhoid Fever

When you consume something that has been contaminated with typhoid bacteria, the bacteria make their way into your body. They start by travelling to your intestines, then move into your bloodstream and can spread throughout your body. These bacteria can cause havoc in different parts of your body, such as your lymph nodes, gallbladder, liver, spleen, and other organs. That's why it's essential to take measures to prevent the spread of typhoid, like practicing good hygiene and ensuring that your food and water sources are safe.

Diagnosis  of Typhoid Fever

The diagnosis of typhoid fever typically involves:

  • - Antibody tests can be conducted to determine if you have developed antibodies against Salmonella typhi.
  • Laboratory tests can be performed to check for fever
  • - Samples of blood, stool, and urine may be taken for analysis.
  • - Bone marrow testing may be done to help diagnose the illness.
  • - A blood culture can also be used to detect the presence of the bacteria that cause typhoid fever.

Diagnosing typhoid fever typically involves a clinical assessment, but doctors may also use stool or blood samples to confirm the diagnosis. It's important to inform your doctor if you've recently travelled, as this information can aid in identifying the disease and ensuring timely treatment of typhoid to avoid potential complications. After diagnosis, around 3% to 5% of patients may become carriers of typhoid bacteria. This highlights the importance of preventing the spread of the illness, even after typhoid treatment is completed.

Test for Typhoid Fever

There are several tests available to help diagnose typhoid fever.

Widal Test

By implanting specific antigens into a serum mixed with dead bacterial suspension of Salmonella, pathologists can conduct a test that detects clumping of blood when antibodies attach to the antigens. This lengthy process risks producing false positives and may exhibit false negatives in individuals with recent infections. Unlike the Typhoid test, the Widal test measures specimen titres for a more precise analysis.

Rapid Diagnostic Tests

Tubex and Typhidot are two rapid diagnostic tests used to detect typhoid fever. Tubex detects antibodies produced against typhoid bacteria in the blood, while Typhidot detects the presence of specific proteins produced by the bacteria. The main difference between the two tests is the way they detect the illness, with Tubex focusing on antibodies and Typhidot on bacterial proteins. Both typhoid tests have moderate diagnostic accuracy, but Tubex has been found to be more sensitive and specific, making it a preferred diagnostic tool in many settings.

Treatment for Typhoid Fever

The treatment for typhoid fever typically involves the use of antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the illness. Ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone are common antibiotics for Typhoid fever. In addition to antibiotics, supportive care such as fluid and electrolyte replacement may be necessary to manage dehydration and other symptoms. Hospitalization may also be required for severe cases or patients who cannot take oral antibiotics. It's important to complete the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider to ensure that the infection is completely eliminated and to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria.

The Bottom Line

Prevention is always better than cure. Prevention of typhoid involves taking steps to ensure that food and water are properly prepared and stored. This includes washing hands frequently, cooking food thoroughly, and avoiding raw or undercooked meats and seafood. Vaccines are also available to prevent typhoid, and these are recommended for individuals who are at high risk of contracting the disease. By staying vigilant and taking steps to protect yourself, you can reduce your risk of contracting this illness and keep your body healthy and happy.

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